The Power of Silence During an Interview
Silence can be terrifying, especially during an interview. You don’t know what the interviewer is thinking and you might start to wonder whether you’ve said something wrong. A silent moment can make you feel the pangs of self-doubt and turn your stomach into a bowl of ice. However, if used properly, silence can be a powerful tool for you—you can leverage the silence to succeed during an interview. Here’s how.
Learn when enough is enough.
Some jobseekers talk and talk until they’ve essentially said too much. This probably stems from a feeling that if you stop talking, you’ll cede control of the conversation to the interviewer. The truth is that in most interviewing scenarios, it’s better to end a sentence early than too late. You might say too much and actually kill the momentum of your point and lose the interviewer’s attention.
It might seem counterintuitive, but a moment of silence can actually generate momentum during an interview. By making a compelling point and stopping to give the idea some time to permeate the room, you’re emphasizing the point and giving your audience a moment to take the information in.
Take a moment to gather your thoughts.
Similarly, during an interview, some candidates tend to blurt out the first answer that comes to mind when asked a question. Because of this, they might stumble through the answer to a tough question. Remember that it’s completely acceptable to pause for a moment and strategize your response. You want to show the interviewer that you’re thoughtful and strategic in your reply. It’s not a contest to see who can answer the fastest. Even a pause mid-reply can give you a chance to assess the interviewer’s reaction and change the course of your answer as needed.
Remember it’s a game of give and take.
Ultimately, the most successful interviews are those where the candidate speaks 50% of the time and listens 50% of the time. It’s a two-way street. There should be a fair amount of silent moments during which you listen. During those moments, you can evaluate the interviewer’s body language and reactions to your responses to course-correct the conversation as required.
Take some control during negotiations.
Silence can be a valuable tool during salary negotiations. When an employer offers you a compensation package, a good rule of thumb is to at least pause before accepting. Whether it’s taking a moment to think on the spot or asking for 24 hours to consider the offer, you can use a bit of silence to demonstrate that you’re serious and thoughtful, and possibly generate a more generous offer.
Overall, don’t be afraid of silence during an interview. Embrace and use it to your advantage when possible. Sometimes you just need an extra moment to gather your thoughts. You need to remember to give the interviewer time to speak, as well. When used wisely silence can be a highly effective tool to crush an interview.